Asthma UK community forum

Chicken Pox and Pred

As you know they tell you to avoid contact with chicken pox and singles when on pred. I'm steroid dependant have been since I was 16. My daughter abi is 2 and we are running into her starting nursery and not going to be able to hide from chicken pox for alot longer. Has anyone been here? I've heard there is a vaccine abi could have so she doesnt get it then wouldnt be at risk of bringing the germ to me?

I'm going to talk to my cons next week when i see him but wanted to ask the old and wise ones here too :)

Thanks in advance

2 Replies

My lovely little nephew seems to make a past time of being in contact with chickenpox and not getting it. However the advice to me was if I had a definite contact as in my nephew got it and I had been with him during the incubation period to contact my GP otherwise there was not much I could do. I have a feeling the vaccine is very short lived.



Hi Charlotte,

You are right that there is an increased risk to you if you contract chicken pox whilst on pred - as you are immunocompromised (ie your immune system is not working as well as it should) you are at higher risk of some of the serious complications such as pneumonitis (affecting the lungs) and meningo-encephalitis (infection of the brain). These are very unpleasant and potentially dangerous, needless to say.

You may have had chicken pox as a child - many people have had it mildly and don't realise/remember. It's possible to have a blood test to see if you already have chicken pox antibodies and are therefore immune - if you are, you are at very low risk of getting it again and you can stop worrying.

If you do not have antibodies, it is worth thinking about ways of minimising your risk of contracting it from your daughter. The vaccine is fairly effective and is recommended for children over 1 year who come into close contact with immunocompromised individuals - so your daughter would certainly fit into that catagory. It is a live vaccine, which means it contains a small dose of live chicken pox virus. This means that there is a small risk of your daughter contracting chicken pox from the vaccine - it's likely to be a mild infection if she does contract it, but she could then pass it on to you.

You could ask about having the vaccine yourself, but most consultants would be very very reluctant to vaccinate someone who is on pred at the time, again because it is a live vaccine and there is a risk of contracting the virus. It's something to consider, though, if you ever manage to get off pred for a time, and for anyone who has frequent courses of oral steroids but is not on them constantly.

It's always worth explaining to other parents that getting chicken pox could be really dangerous to you - a lot of people these days think of chicken pox as a mild virus that every child should get to 'get it out of the way' and will not particularly make efforts to minimise their child's exposure to others if they have it. If you explain the situation, they may be a bit more accomodating to minimise your risk. Chicken pox is infectious from two to three days before the rash and other symptoms appear, until after the rash has crusted over, so unfortunately it's possible to be exposed before the child develops any symptoms.

If you are exposed to chicken pox, you need to contact your doctor as soon as you realise that you have been in contact with it. There are things that can be done to minimise your risk of developing complications - you may be given an IV immunoglobulin infusion to provide you with antibodies against the disease (this is known as 'passive immunisation') and you may be given aciclovir, an antiviral drug. All of these things are more effective if done soon after contact, so it is important to contact your doctor as soon as you realise.

Hope this helps; it's definitely something that's worth discussing with your doctor

Take care

Em H


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